Please notice this article is outdated, after the client and game mechanics were renewed on May 2011!

I strongly suggest reading STARTERS GUIDE at Shadow Cities forum instead of this article.

Shadow Cities is a location based MMORPG which was just released for iPhone and is currently in beta stage (available only in Finland).

In order to get you started, I decided to write this post. I’ve myself played only for two days, nearly as long as the game has been publicly available. So these advices are from newbie to newbie :). And it’s very possible some of these advices gets outdated in near future.

These advices are unofficial and made from personal perspective. By the way, I’m playing with character called “Macaco” for the Architects.

Last updated on 13th of Nov, 2010

Table of Contents

Read the Help Section

Shadow Cities has a brief and clear help section, which you really should read before starting your career as a mage. It can also be found online from Shadow Cities Help Section.

Seriously, read it.

About the Terminology

Teams
You’ll belong either on the Architects or the Animators. On daily basis, your side will mostly affect on how you’re able to travel (or warp) in your area without moving physically. On weekly basis, there are different kind of campaigns where both teams compete against each other.
Hitpoints
Mages don’t have hitpoints, only spirits do. This means neither you can’t get killed, nor can the other mages. Every time a mage is hit, he’ll lose (only) mana.
Mana
Whenever you want to do something cool, you’ll need mana for that.
Experience
In order to get on next level, you need to gain experience. The best way to gain experience is to kill spirits.
Spirits
Spirits are the non-player characters of the game, which you’ll hunt down and kill until your screen has a greasy Z figure on it. And then you’ll kill some more.
Energy
Energy can be considered as “experience points of the team”. It seems there will be different kind of contest every week between teams and the amount of collected energy is in important role. The main resource for energy are the dominators.
Warping
This is how you travel inside the game. Or of course you can travel physically, but by warping you’ll get to different places very quickly. Warping back and forth doesn’t consume any mana.
Buildings
There are different kind of buildings, and the dominators are the most important ones. These towers has several meanings which you can find out by reading through the help section.
Power
Power is needed in order to build specific type of buildings. Dominators are generating power, while other type of buildings are consuming it.
Energy Gateways
These are burning flames around the realm. They can be conquered by attaching dominators to them. They also can be bought with mana bottles, making the buyer as the Shadow lord of the realm (the close surroundings).

What is Mana?

On the bottom left corner of the main view, there’s a blue bottle and a tiny meter. This is your mana. Good thing to remember is that nearly every action requires mana in some way.

The meter will show much mana you’ve charged with, and the number above the bottle displays the amount of mana bottles. One bottle will recharge your mana completely. Full charge of mana will be enough for 3 – 4 war spells.

Mana bottles are also the currency in the Shadow Cities. This is quite important to realize. Don’t use bottles for recharging whenever you’ve time to wait. Mana will automatically regenerate, but the bottles won’t. Therefore it’s the best way just to wait for recharging. Trust me, you’ll eventually end up in a situation where you’ll curse yourself for spending mana bottles in vain.

There are three ways to gain more mana bottles: 1) buying them from App Store, 2) researching (see “What Are the Captured Spirits?”) and 3) by completing tasks (little yellow exclamation or question mark on bottom right of the screen).

How Do I Gain Experience?

The best way to gain experience is by killing spirits. There are different kind of spirits, but most of them are quite easy catches (Rank 1).

Spirits are flying around and will not attack you until you’ve first attacked them. You should definitely go after them whenever you’ve got enough mana to throw at least two war spells.

It’s not cool either to kill a spirit someone else is trying to kill. No matter if he’s an Architect or an Animator. The amount of experience is nothing compared the amount of disrespect you gain.

What Are the Captured Spirits?

After you kill a spirit, it’s captured. The list of captured spirits can be found by pressing the white Shadow Cities icon on the bottom right. And on the sub menu, go for the yellow icon on the top left.

There are 12 different kind of spirits in total, with three different colors (red, green, blue) and four different houses (Dannan, Drioma, Inrik, Tiermes).

There are two things that makes some spirits more worthy than others: 1) spirits have different values (marked with stars) and 2) some type of spirits are used to research mana bottles.

Captured spirits can be used for generating energy. The value (no star, one star, three star) defines the amount of energy you’ll generate while donating the spirit. They can also be used for researching mana bottles.

The point here is to focus on more valuable spirits and / or spirits that can be used for researching. I’ve noticed that more valuable spirits (especially three stars on them) are harder to capture, but you’ll also gain more experience by killing them. So, I definitely recommend hunting down these certain type of spirits.

How to Kill Other Players?

Never ever go after other players! It just doesn’t make sense. At the moment, other players can’t be killed (I personally hope this get changed). They’ll only lose their mana – and so do you. If you encounter an hostile situation you should just warp away.

Only reasonable situation for attacking opponent players is when they’re trying to destroy your buildings. However, it’s easy for them to logout and come back later with recharged mana and continue the destruction. But at least you’ve tried your best :).

How to research?

You can research by selecting yellow character icon from top left and then the mana bottle from sub menu. In research menu you see three headers labeled as “Research”, “My Public Projects” and “Other Public Projects”.

Currently it seems that “Red Dannan”, “Green Drioma” and “Blue Inrik” are used for researching purposes. I don’t know whether this will change on some interval.

You should check what type of spirits you have for researching purposes from “Research” view. But don’t start your own project yet. Instead you should check through ongoing public projects whether you can contribute to them.

Every mage who participates on research project will gain one mana bottle. If they participate by adding multiple type of spirits they still gain only one bottle. Therefore it makes no sense to contribute with more than one spirit.

When you start your own project, it will appear as public project, but only to your friends. However, when you participate on a project created by someone else, this project will be seen only by his friends.

How to Collect Energy?

The dominators are the main source of energy. Dominators will slowly generate energy, and when they’re filled with energy, a red circle will appear around them and you can harvest the energy. You’re also capable of harvesting your team members dominators. Another way to collect energy is to donate captured spirits (see above).

You’ll also gain (or rob) energy when destroying opponents dominator which is fully charged. It’s extremely rewarding when you stumble upon a field of opponent dominators.

It’s rather important to collect energy. Energy will help your team to win the weekly campaign. And you’ll be rewarded according to the energy you’ve collected.

What Should I Build, And Why?

Build dominators. Focus on building the dominators. And harvest the dominators as often as possible.

Distribute dominators. The amount of power generated by dominators doesn’t depend on the location of dominator. In addition, your dominators will generate more energy in average when they’re distributed to different gateways. One dominator per player, per gateway will generate 12 energy points, while two of them will generate only 8 points each. If you connect eg. five of your dominators to a single gateway, they’ll generate only five energy points each.

Always destroy enemy dominators when you encounter them. This is the situation where mana bottles are essential because you really want to get rid of them all. At the moment it seems not many players are fully aware of this. By destroying opponent’s dominators you both gain experience and harm their infrastructure.

You’ll find out the meaning of all the other buildings while you’re progressing on the game. But the dominators are the constitution of the game.

What is Warping?

In order to get easily on different places, you’ll need to warp. Whenever there’s something that belongs to your team, you can warp on it. That is very good thing to remember.

It’s possible to warp longer distances. This is done through beacons, a specific type of building which has to be built by someone. You can see the available beacons by entering into expanded view by clicking on the white Shadow Cities on the bottom right, and then on the submenu, click the white cloud icon on bottom left.

What Spells Should I Choose?

I have no straight answer on this, so I’ll make a good guess:

  • Upgrade your war spell first
  • Catchers are excellent for capturing loads of (both common and rare spirits). I recommend learning this spell on second.
  • Ability to heal makes you feel like a good mage when you’re donating your mana to other players. However, at the beginning it’s useless for healing buildings while most of them can be destroyed with couple of war spells
  • You won’t be needing beacons in the beginning. They consume lots of power while they won’t provide you any value. Don’t go for them.
  • Traps are always cool. But lower level spell is quite useless, since the trap can be destroyed with one or two war spells

So in general, consider evolving only in the war and catcher spells. They are the spells you’ve personally needing most. Your team will need you, but not when you’re on level 5.

Closing Words

I just hope this helps you to get started. Playing Shadow Cities isn’t that complicated. But I’ve heard some of the new players complaining about the icons and terms that they’re not self explanatory, and you easily end up wandering and doing something meaningless. But it’s good to remember that the game is in beta phase and at least I do think the game will evolve from this point.